NFL Champions (1920–Present)

Football players at line of scrimmage, cropped

PhotoAlto/Sandro Di Carlo Darsa/Getty Images

The history of the NFL dates back much farther than the Super Bowl, which was first played in 1967. Indeed, the NFL was founded in 1920, when teams from four states—Ohio, Indiana, New York and Illinois—came together to form the American Professional Football Association, according to The group changed its name to the NFL in 1922. The league did not hold a championship in 1920, but Akron, which was the only undefeated team that year, was declared the champion. Scan the list below to view all of the NFL champions since the league's founding.

1920–1929—The Chicago Bears Begin

The NFL held no championship games during this decade. An aging Jim Thorpe "moved from Canton to the (football) Cleveland Indians, but he was hurt early in the season and played very little," notes. Another famous football legend came into play during this period: George Halas took over the Decatur Staleys as player-coach and moved the team to Cubs Park in Chicago, and the Staleys became the second league champs in 1922 with a 9-1-1 record. The team changed its name to the Chicago Bears that same year.

1920 - Akron Pros
1921 - Chicago Staleys
1922 - Canton Bulldogs
1923 - Canton Bulldogs
1924 - Cleveland Bulldogs
1925 - Chicago Cardinals
1926 - Frankford Yellow Jackets
1927 - New York Giants
1928 - Providence Steam Roller
1929 - Green Bay Packers

1930–1939—The Bears Versus Packers

The Green Bay Packers established their first era of dominance, having won the championship in 1929, and would continue to win two more during the early part of the decade. The year 1933 also saw the first championship game, with the Chicago Bears defeating the Eastern Division champion Giants 23-21 at Wrigley Field on December 17. Halas, who had stepped back for a bit, returned to coaching the Bears during the decade for a memorable 10-year run.

1930 - Green Bay Packers
1931 - Green Bay Packers
1932 - Chicago Bears
1933 - Chicago Bears
1934 - New York Giants
1935 - Detroit Lions
1936 - Green Bay Packers
1937 - Washington Redskins
1938 - New York Giants
1939 - Green Bay Packers

1940–1949—The Bears Keep Winning

The Bears continued to dominate the decade, winning 50 percent of the championship games during the period. During the decade: "The team acquired the University of Chicago's discarded nickname 'Monsters of the Midway ' and their now-famous helmet 'C,' as well as a newly penned theme song, 'The Pride and Joy of Illinois'," according to Wikipedia.

1940 - Chicago Bears
1941 - Chicago Bears
1942 - Washington Redskins
1943 - Chicago Bears
1944 - Green Bay Packers
1945 - Cleveland Rams
1946 - Chicago Bears
1947 - Chicago Cardinals
1948 - Philadelphia Eagles
1949 - Philadelphia Eagles

1950–1959—Era of the Browns

This was the decade of the Cleveland Browns, which won three championships during the period, though the Baltimore Colts came on strong at the end of 10-year-span, winning two consecutive championships in 1958 and 1959.

1950 - Cleveland Browns
1951 - Los Angeles Rams
1952 - Detroit Lions
1953 - Detroit Lions
1954 - Cleveland Browns
1955 - Cleveland Browns
1956 - New York Giants
1957 - Detroit Lions
1958 - Baltimore Colts
1959 - Baltimore Colts

1960–1969—The Super Bowl Begins

The fledgling American Football League jockeyed with the NFL for players and fans from 1960 through 1969. The teams began playing a championship game, dubbed the "Super Bowl" in 1967. Vince Lombardi's mighty Green Bay Packers dominated the first two championship matchups, winning in 1967 and 1968. But, the 1968-1969 season saw the rise of brash, young Jets quarterback, Joe Namath—nicknamed "Broadway Joe" for his good looks and commercial appeal—who accurately predicted a stunning win over the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III.

1960 - Houston Oilers (AFL)
1960 - Philadelphia Eagles (NFL)
1961 - Houston Oilers (AFL)
1961 - Green Bay Packers (NFL)
1962 - Dallas Texans (AFL)
1962 - Green Bay Packers (NFL)
1963 - San Diego Chargers (AFL)
1963 - Chicago Bears (NFL)
1964 - Buffalo Bills (AFL)
1964 - Cleveland Browns (NFL)
1965 - Buffalo Bills (AFL)
1965 - Green Bay Packers (NFL)
1966 - Kansas City Chiefs (AFL)
1966 - Green Bay Packers (NFL)
1967 - Green Bay Packers (NFL)
1968 - Green Bay Packers (NFL)
1969 - New York Jets (AFL)

1970–1979—The Leagues Merge

In 1970, The AFL and NFL merged with the AFL to be designated as the American Football Conference and the NFL now known as the National Football Conference. Yearly Super Bowls continued to determine the NFL champions. Feisty and competitive Louisiana-born Terry Bradshaw and the vaunted "Steel Curtain," the front four of the Pittsburg Steelers defensive line, would lead that team to four Super Bowl championships during the decade—technically the fourth win was in early 1980, after the 1979 season—establishing the first post-merger dynasty.

1970 - Kansas City
1971 - Baltimore Colts
1972 - Dallas Cowboys
1973 - Miami Dolphins
1974 - Miami Dolphins
1975 - Pittsburgh Steelers
1976 - Pittsburgh Steelers
1977 - Oakland Raiders
1978 - Dallas Cowboys
1979 - Pittsburgh Steelers

1980–1989—The Rice-Montana Era

San Francisco quarterback Joe Montana, together with Jerry Rice, widely regarded as the best receiver in NFL history, dominated the decade, winning four Super Bowls—technically, the fourth was in early 1990, after the 1989 season—making the 49ers the dynasty of the 1980s.

1980 - Pittsburgh Steelers
1981 - Oakland Raiders
1982 - San Francisco 49ers
1983 - Washington Redskins
1984 - Los Angeles Raiders
1985 - San Francisco 49ers
1986 - Chicago Bears
1987 - New York Giants
1988 - Washington Redskins
1989 - San Francisco 49ers

1990–1999—America's Team

Sparked by quarterback Troy Aikman, the Dallas Cowboys—dubbed America's Team—won three Super Bowls in a four-year span during the first half of the decade. Denver quarterback John Elway, long considered a superstar but a perennial loser in championship games, finally won two consecutive Super Bowls.

1990 - San Francisco 49ers
1991 - New York Giants
1992 - Washington Redskins
1993 - Dallas Cowboys
1994 - Dallas Cowboys
1995 - San Francisco 49ers
1996 - Dallas Cowboys
1997 - Green Bay Packers
1998 - Denver Broncos
1999 - Denver Broncos

2000–2009—The Brady Era Begins

The tandem of coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady began a run that would eventually lead to five wins in seven Super Bowl appearances over the course of two decades. The streak began with a stunning upset of quarterback Kurt Warner and the St. Loius Rams—the Greatest Show on Turf—by Brady and Belichick despite New England coming into the game as a 14-point underdog.

2000 - St. Louis Rams
2001 - Baltimore Ravens
2002 - New England Patriots
2003 - Tampa Bay Buccaneers
2004 - New England Patriots
2005 - New England Patriots
2006 - Pittsburgh Steelers
2007 - Indianapolis Colts
2008 - New York Giants
2009- Pittsburgh Steelers

2000–2009—Goal-Line Stand and Historic Comeback

With just 20 seconds remaining in Super Bowl XLIX, and Seattle poised on New England's one-yard line seemingly about to take the lead and win the game—the Seahawks had Marshawn Lynch, the league's greatest rusher, ready to go into "Beast Mode" and power the ball in for that final yard—Seattle inexplicably opted to pass. New England's undrafted rookie Malcolm Butler muscled his way in to intercept the pass, and New England went on to win the championship. Later in the decade, Brady and the Patriots, trailing by 25 points midway through the third quarter, engineered a historic comeback to win Super Bowl 51.

2010 - New Orleans Saints
2011 - Green Bay Packers
2012 - New York Giants
2013 - Baltimore Ravens
2014 - Seattle Seahawks
2015 - New England Patriots
2016 - Denver Broncos
2017 - New England Patriots
2018 - Philadelphia Eagles
2019 - New England Patriots